Firstly, I want to let everyone know how appreciative I am that this site exists. I have been a frequenter for many months, and lurked through all the posts simultaneously while attending a year of individual therapy. (I did not seek couples, as my one stipulation was my spouse needed to book the appointment to prove to me that he cared - spoiler alert, he didn't.) I learned about co-dependency and read Melody Beatty's book from recommendations here. My life is fairly stable and happier than it's been in years, but I'd still like to share my story in case it could help any future lurkers that are currently mid-battle.
There's a joke I like to tell people that I meet, and it's that one year I had my thyroid tested. I was depressed and thought I might have hormonal imbalances. As it turned out, my life just sucked. A lot of the behavior I was enduring from my spouse was exceptionally abusive and it was normalized to me because I had lived with an emotionally distant and narcissistic father.
One of the first things my therapist ever told me was that I stayed way longer than the average person would in my marriage, and I bet the same can be said for a lot of the spouses on this site.
My soon to be ex-husband and I meet on World of Warcraft. (I've been game free since February 2018, and have enacted gaming as an immediate deal-breaker in any future relationships after living with my spouse.) He moved to my state to live with me and we dated for about 4 years before marrying, while we were both heavily addicted to WoW. In 2011 we married, but I cannot remember us having any moments of emotional intimacy and we barely had physical intimacy. (Even at the beginning of our relationship, in the "honeymoon" phase.)
We moved into an apartment immediately after marrying, and we played lots and lots of WoW together. We, however, were still fairly active with real life friends. It wasn't until 3-4 years later when Overwatch came out that he began to completely withdraw from real life. When we moved into a house, he eventually dropped all household responsibilities (inside and out), and would spend all his time free from work on the computer. He started using Discord and big sound proof headphones, and would wake up before 7 A.M. and hop straight on, and wouldn't come to bed until late in the night after I had already gone to sleep. My ex lost interest in his previous hobbies like brewing beer and watching television, or playing board games with friends during this time. He began to say our real life friends were no longer his, and would lock himself in his room if they came to visit. He would hole himself up and stay on Discord with a female player that he told me was his best friend. During this time, he became very aggressive toward me, and at one point threw me out of our marital home and told me to "Get out of his effing house!" He refused to ever spend time with me, but I'd catch him sitting in his chair while streaming shows like Jessica Jones or Claymore while talking to his online "friend" over Discord. He essentially replaced me with this online individual, and did coupley things with her. Every time I mentioned this, he called me crazy, diminished my feelings, or made me feel bad for actually having needs.
A lot of what he was actively doing did not involve games, as he spent numerous hours binge-watching shows with this person. I believe his issues definitely ran deeper than just video game addiction. If y'all ever read Chumplady.com, you'll notice that spouses actively participating in infidelity get mean, and he did. So very mean. Just to give some highlights - he shrieked at me while I was bleeding from a miscarriage of a 3 month pregnancy "WHAT ARE YOU CRYING ABOUT NOW!", he laughed at me while I was racked with tears and sobbing because I thought I had cancer (I did, by the way), he was never there for me during my treatments and even when I was wounded from surgery still left all the household duties entirely on me. I lost my car to an accident that later gave me road PTSD, and he would purposely speed his truck up to 80 mph, and then slam on the brakes to see me have a panic attack so he could laugh. He bought two vehicles for himself, and let one sit in the driveway broken down. This ensured I never had anything to drive as he told me we were always "SO EFFING BROKE!!" and we then had two vehicle payments totalling over $500+. We shared a bank account and he knew I had lost my access to see it, and he used that to spend tons of money on Steam games, eating out every lunch, and sending gifts to his Discord lady friend. He hadn't purchased even a Christmas gift for me in two years, he sent her 8-9 gifts in less than one year. He drank almost daily, and even a day after my abdominal surgery when he took off work to supposedly help me, he would shriek drunkenly to his Discord friends while I tried to sleep off my pain. He almost hit me once when I flipped the breaker to his room. He would tell me I was worthless, and one statement that sticks in my mind, "What good are you anyway?" He also told me that I would get nothing if I left him, not the house, or either dog. Keep in mind, we both work and share a bank account, but to him, I owned nothing and was worth nothing.
Let me say this, I have been a WoW addict! In the height of my addiction, I would've never treated anyone like this! My therapist is of the opinion that my ex is narcissistic. If anyone is in a relationship like mine, run fast! Life is SO much happier on the other side! I drive now, conqured my road fear, have my own bank account and vehicle. I know where my money is, and have control over my life. I've found a companion that WANTS TO BE WITH ME! I still miss the person that masqueraded before me at times, but I know he was a lie. Anyone that can treat you so horribly does not love you! I am happy to say my ex has moved out of state, sold our marital home, and I have officially been bought out of it and given the check. Regardless of how worthless he thought I was, the state we lived in disagreed and told the joker to pony up. I now don't feel like I need to get my thyroid checked, and have a healthy sense of relationships, responsibility, and boundaries. I know where I start, and where I end. I know what I'll accept, and what I won't. All of these things I would have never discovered had I not left my gamer.
I can honestly tell you, however, he has given me serious traumas that I know will last a lifetime. I hope anyone reading this and needing help will seek it. You don't deserve this treatment, and you need to not accept victim blaming. What we endure, don't sugar coat it, IT'S ABUSE! Do not let them victim blame you! It's beneficial to read books on narcissistic abuse too, one such book that was helpful to me is Power: Surviving and Thriving after Narcissistic Abuse.
I wish anyone luck who reads this.